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Urinary Tract Infection in Cats

While cat urinary tract infections are rare compared to how often these conditions appear in dogs, older cats can experience an array of other urinary tract issues that lead to similar symptoms. Here, our Scottsdale vets list the symptoms, causes and treatments for urinary tract infections and diseases in cats. 

Urinary Tract Infection - Cat

While we often see cats with urinary tract issues, our feline companions are more susceptible to urinary tract disease than infections. 

When cats do present with urinary tract infections, they may also be suffering from endocrine diseases such as diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism. Most of these cats are 10 or more years old. 

If your four-legged best friend is showing symptoms of a urinary tract infection (see below) and dis diagnosed with an infection such as cystitis, your vet will prescribe an antibacterial to help your cat fight the UTI. 

Among the most common symptoms of urinary tract infections in cats include: pain or discomfort when urinating, reduced amounts of urine, straining to urinate, urinating around the house, outside the litter box and passing urine tinged with blood. 

If your cat is exhibiting any of these symptoms, they might be suffering from a UTI. However, these symptoms can also point to feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD).

Feline Urinary Tract Disease - FLUTD

FLUTD - feline lower urinary tract disease - is a term that encompasses many clinical symptoms. The disease can cause issues in your cat's bladder and urethra, often leading to obstructions in the urethra, or preventing your kitty's bladder from emptying properly. Left untreated, these conditions can turn serious and even life-threatening. 

Cats suffering from FLUTD may find it difficult, painful or impossible to urinate. They might also urinate more often, or in inappropriate areas outside their litter box (often on surfaces that are cool to the touch such as in a bathtub or on a tile floor). 

Causes of Feline Urinary Tract Disease 

It can be challenging to diagnose and treat this complex condition since multiple causes and factors may contribute to the disease. Debris, stones or crystals can gradually accumulate in your cat's urethra - the tube connecting your cat's bladder to the outside of the body - or bladder. 

Some other common causes of lower urinary tract issues in cats include:

  • Incontinence due to excessive water consumption or weak bladder
  • Spinal cord issues
  • Urethral plug caused by the accumulation of debris from urine
  • Bladder infection, inflammation, urinary tract infection (UTI)
  • Injury or tumor in the urinary tract
  • Congenital abnormalities
  • Emotional or environmental stressors

Urinary tract disease in cats is most often diagnosed in overweight, middle-aged cats who have little to no access to outdoors, eat a dry food diet or do not get enough physical activity, although cats of any age can get the condition. Male cats are also more prone to urinary diseases since their narrower urethras are more likely to become blocked. 

Using an indoor litter box, emotional or environmental stress, multi-cat households or sudden changes to their everyday routine can also leave cats more vulnerable to urinary tract disease.

If your kitty is diagnosed with FLUTD it is essential to determine the underlying cause. FLUTD symptoms can be caused by serious underlying health issues such as bladder stones or infection to cancer or a blockage.

If your vet is unable to determine the cause of your cat's FLUTD, your kitty may be diagnosed with a urinary tract infection called cystitis which is inflammation of the bladder.

Symptoms of Feline Urinary Tract Disease in Cats

If your cat has FLUTD or a cat urinary tract infection you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Inability to urinate
  • Loss of bladder control
  • Urinating small amounts
  • Urinating more than usual or in inappropriate settings
  • Avoidance or fear of litter box
  • Strong ammonia odor in urine
  • Hard or distended abdomen
  • Cloudy or bloody urine
  • Drinking more water than usual
  • Excessive licking of genital area
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting

It’s critical that any bladder or urinary issue be treated as early as possible. Delays in treatment could lead to your cat's urethra becoming partially or completely obstructed, which can prevent your feline friend from urinating.

The symptoms above indicate a serious medical issue that could quickly lead to kidney failure or rupture of the bladder. FLUTD can quickly be fatal if there is an obstruction that is not eliminated immediately.

Diagnosis of Feline Urinary Tract Disease

If you believe that your feline friend may be having problems with their lower urinary tract, contact your vet right away, especially if your cat is straining to urinate or crying out in pain.

Your vet will perform a complete physical exam to help assess your cat's symptoms and perform a urinalysis to get further insight into your cat's condition. Radiographs, bloodwork and a urine culture may also need to be done.

Cat Urinary Tract Infection Recovery

Urinary issues in cats can be complex and serious, so the first step should be to make an appointment with your veterinarian for immediate care. The underlying cause of your cat's urinary symptoms will dictate which treatment is prescribed, but may include:

  • Increasing your kitty's water consumption
  • Antibiotics or medication to relieve symptoms
  • Modified diet
  • Expelling of small stones through the urethra
  • Urinary acidifiers
  • Fluid therapy
  • Urinary catheter or surgery for male cats to remove urethral blocks

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Urinary tract infections and feline lower urinary tract disease are both conditions that need immediate veterinary care. Contact our Scottsdale vets to book an appointment if you suspect your feline friend is displaying symptoms of a UTI.

Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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